Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Help Wanted: Moving conversations from testing to learning

Passion against testing and for learning--

Synergy electrifying a digital meeting space--

Expertise abounding--

Connecting with likeminded teachers--

Collaborating for our students--

Collective Action in the works to move the conversation from testing to learning—

One gathering of many planned—

To engage all stakeholders moving the conversation around education from testing to learning—

When teacher leaders, Yong Zhao, Doug Christensen and Monty Neill gather together in one room (this one sponsored by PLP) to dialogue as they did last night in TLO’s first virtual Teach In around education and learning, a remarkable electricity fills the air and ideas grounded in principles, values and vision encircle and embrace the gathering. (You can access the archive of the Elluminate gathering at this link.) Too rare an occurrence -- one to be treasured.

Under the fine leadership of Anthony Cody and Nancy Flanagan, teachers, teacher leaders, the members of the Facebook group Teachers’ Letters to Obama, are ready to move out of the “echo chamber” and engage all stakeholders as they seek to enable a huge shift --from discussions of testing to ones of learning- The time is now, as Anthony Cody says to use our “outside voices”.

My deep belief is that we can make a difference; through collaboration and collective action, we can influence change in policy. We have to, for our students.


1. By joining the Facebook group, participating in the discussions there, and attending their upcoming gatherings.

2. By following Nancy’s and Anthony’s blogs

3. By learning more about alternatives to the current toxic testing policies and collecting evidence that supports the negative impact of this testing culture.

Monty Neill suggested these websites had useful information:


Are these specific documents at the Fair Test site of value?

How Standardized Testing Damages Education

Seven ways to work for NCLB reform

Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA) recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

These sites on the alternate model that Doug Christensen described in the session-- The STARS model that had been implemented in Nebraska share a unique perspective that really resonates with me:

How Nebraska Leaves No Child Behind, 2007


Douglas Christensen Assessment Maverick


Doug Christensen on Classroom-Based Assessment


4. By committing to help move the conversation from testing to learning through writing letters to editors, to legislators and/or meeting with legislators. Zhao, Christensen and Neill all stressed the need to educate and influence legislators and the public and offered suggestions—

· Be for something; offer stories of youngsters learning—

· Learn a little about them before you write or meet and always mention something good they’ve done—

· Make a request-- for example, ask if we might return to the 1994 law

· Have evidence to back it up your request that illustrate the power of learning

· Leave them some materials if you are meeting in a group with them, not more than a 2 pager

Imagine the possibilities when hundreds and thousands of teachers raise their voices for learning and for their students—

Photo Credit

1 comment:

Nancy Flanagan said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Lani. It was a barnburner of an evening, wasn't it? Can't tell you just how energizing it was to have teachers feel that there was a moral purpose behind their anger and frustration.

Great blog!